You Better Werk: Dr. Leo Moore
There’s a lot of information out in the world right now about COVID-19. So much so that it can be pretty overwhelming—how do we decipher what’s fact and what’s fiction? While navigating the influx of daily updates can be difficult, especially if you are a person who keeps up with every press conference and news article, there’s a doctor in Los Angeles who’s made it his mission to ensure that the LGBTQ+ community has the vital information they need to stay informed, stay safe, and stay hopeful.
For Dr. Leo Moore, Medical Director for Clinic Services at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, this hope means using his degree for the good of the community—something that he says he learned from his family. “I was raised in a family of nurses,” Moore laughs, saying that care for the greater good was something that he always centered in all of his work.
“I always knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Moore notes, expressing that for him the dream started at the age of five. “I’ve always been interested in helping people and I knew that I could do that by going into medicine.”
After medical school at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and a residency at Yale’s Primary Care department of internal medicine, his focus on ending the HIV epidemic in the Black and Brown community is where he first noticed that so many people lacked access to someone in medicine who could advocate for their wellbeing.
Now, Dr. Moore is using both his knowledge and his platform during this COVID-19 pandemic to do something that’s essential for the LGBTQ+ community: provide well researched and practical information. Through his series “The Practical MD”, Dr. Moore is helping the LGBTQ+ community get answers to the questions that cause them concern during this time.
“You know, when I heard about COVID-19, my first thoughts were that not only did this escalate quickly, but how hard it would be for some folks to get access to the accurate information,” Dr. Moore notes. “I was also worried about how folks were going to get access to proper testing if they got sick and proper access to quality care.”
It’s not just concern over the spread of the virus that’s driving him to step up, but also the spread of misinformation. “I am always worried about how information is getting back to marginalized people,” Dr. Moore shares, “but more, how this was going to affect queer/trans people of color, the homeless, and the undocumented.” For Dr. Moore, it’s knowing how marginalized groups are usually hit the hardest when these types of events happen.
“I knew that this pandemic was going to have a greater reaching effect and implications on LGBTQ+ people,” Dr. Moore says, noting that this pandemic shouldn’t be taken lightly by the community. “Queer people and queer people of color could be severely affected by this because many—particularly queer people of color—are often on the margins and don’t have the support and resources they deserve.”
And Dr. Moore is right, considering the statistics that were just announced by the Human Rights Campaign—17% of LGBTQ people lack health coverage and one in five LGBTQ+ people have not seen a doctor when they need to because they couldn’t afford it.
“It’s important for me, as a provider and a physician, to help people make good decisions for themselves,” he says, highlighting how even in a short amount of time COVID-19 has done a number on the community. “COVID-19 has already devastated the livelihood of a lot of people and I anticipate that we will have a lot to consider in the next few months. While the government is talking about it and seemingly working to ease the tension, there are still a lot of people with a ton of questions.”
What’s important for Dr. Moore is knowing that he is in a position to help end the mass confusion and fear that everyone has around this virus. “Hysteria is rooted in misinformation,” Dr. Moore shares, stating that he hopes to use his platform to change the rhetoric around COVID-19. Knowing and understanding the tumultuous relationship that LGBTQ+ people have had with the healthcare industry, Dr. Moore wants to be the link in mending ties.
“There is a lot of mistrust in the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to doctors,” Dr. Moore says. “And the government is often connected to medicine, right? We know the history—it goes back to the ‘80s and the start of the AIDS epidemic. There is a history of medical mistrust. But the only way to ease that concern is to get clear, concise, and well-informed information.”
The goal for Dr. Moore is simple: to provide practical information that is going to make people feel like they have someone in their corner, something so many people need during this time. Dr. Moore’s message and work is about giving people, specifically LGBTQ+ individuals, access to information from someone they can trust in a time where misinformation is prevalent.
So what does Dr. Moore hope to achieve with their new platform? “I want people to get information that isn’t just opinion, but evidence based,” he says. “I not only want to advocate for those who don’t have the answers, but I want to change the way we think about COVID-19. We need more stories highlighted in the media about the amount of people who are recovering and returning to their everyday lives. COVID-19 does not equal a death sentence. I just want people to know that. ”
*Dr. Leo Moore is a public health advocate and all views and opinions expressed are his own and not a representation of the LA County department of health.